Sometimes, when I tell people I work in special education, they say things like, “you must have the patience of a saint,” or “it takes a certain kind of person to work with those kids.” These statements are usually well-intentioned but often misinformed.

1. We’re real teachers

We went to real colleges and universities and came out with real degrees. Don’t let anyone tell you that we’re glorified babysitters.

2. Yes, you can eat lunch in under three minutes

That is… if we even get lunch at all. Special education teachers don’t typically get a planning period, which makes grazing on snacks while taking care of business our specialty.

3. Thick skin comes with the job

At some point in their career, every special educator is bound to have students who exhibit challenging behavior. What’s crucial to know is that we’re trained not to take any adverse action personally. We know that students often manifest behavioral issues because they don’t have the skills to communicate, which makes it critical that we teach them to voice their wants and needs appropriately.